The Nepalese community in Edmonton recently observed Mha Puja (The Worship of Body Persona) and New Year (Nepal Era 1139) amidst a special cultural event at Duggan Community Hall in Edmonton, Canada on Saturday November 10, 2018. The cultural event was hosted by the Newa Cultural Society of Alberta (NCSA), a local organization established under the Societies Act of Government of Alberta to practice, promote and preserve Newa culture and traditions. About 100 people including guests from different ethnic background, color and faith participated in the cultural event.
The cultural event was jointly inaugurated by Hon. Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations, Government of Alberta; and Dr. Hemanta Joshi, President of Newa Cultural Society of Alberta (NCSA); by lighting up the Twadewas, traditional Nepalese artistic oil lamps. After that, Dr. Joshi garlanded the portrait of Sankhadhar Sakhwa, the founding father of Nepal Era or Nepal Sambat calendar.
In the inaugural session, Dr. Hemanta Joshi, President of NCSA, delivered a welcome speech highlighting the significance of Mha Puja and New Year (Nepal Era 1139). Dr. Joshi also briefly spoke about the philosophical aspect of Mha Puja. According to Dr. Joshi, Mha Puja can be performed by people of any background, color and faith simply to recognize, respect, empower and purify the soul for meaningful living.
In the inaugural session, Hon. Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations, read out the Mha Puja and New Year Greetings from the Premier of Alberta, and handed it to the President of NCSA. He expressed his satisfaction of being part of the cultural event to observe Mha Puja and New Year celebration for the second time. He thanked the Nepalese community for bringing vibrant and wonderful Newa culture in Canada and in building Alberta a great province. He also handed certificates to new life members of NCSA, outstanding volunteers and local artists.
After the inaugural session, the community Mha Puja ceremony took place in a traditional way. All the participants including Hon. Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations, sat cross-legged in front of their colorful Mandalas drawn to represent inner soul. A group of senior ladies from the community facilitated the Mha Puja ceremony. They offered Dhau Shinah [a dab of colored paste made from yogurt, whole grain rice and vermillion powder] to the participants on their forehead. All the participants worshiped their inner soul by lighting a candle [substitute for Khelu Ita (wicked oil lamp)] and by offering flower, whole rice grains, puffed rice, and vermillion powder in their Mandalas.
As part of the ritual, all participants including Hon. Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations, in the Mha Puja ceremony, received an auspicious tray containing garlands, Kokha (sacred threads to wear around the neck to protect from evils), fruits (honey pomelo, banana, and orange), ethnic sweets (Cell madhi and Julbi), Masala Po (a package of dry nuts, spices and candies), whole walnuts, Syangli (whole filbert nuts), and peanuts in shell as a Bhintuna Dechha (best wishes Mha Puja gift). All participants also received auspicious Khen Sagan [a ritual food comprised of deep-fried egg, Bara (deep fried donut made from black lentil), small fried whole fish, steamed and fried pieces of meat, and small quantities of Aela (whisky) in a Kholcha (small bowel)] from the senior ladies as blessings for prosperity, longevity and good luck throughout the New Year.
Hon. Amarjeet Sohi, Federal Minister of Natural Resources, Government of Canada, attended the second part of the Mha Puja and New Year (Nepal Era 1139) celebration cultural event. He received auspicious Khen Sagan and Bhintuna Dechha from the senior lady of the community. He gave Deepawali and New Year greetings to the community members on behalf of Government of Canada. He said that people in Canada are fortunate to come together to celebrate their heritage, language, traditions and festivals. According to him, the spirit of multiculturalism, the spirit of diversity and the laws of welcoming everyone make Canada unique in the world.
In the cultural event, participants were entertained with vivid cultural programs (music drama on Sankhadhar, ancient Bhairab Mask dance, ancient Kumari Charya dance, ethnic songs as well as cultural quiz related to Mha Puja and Nepal Era calendar). At the end of the cultural event, an ethnic dinner was served to all the participants.